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Decision No. 1079

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October 26 2007
In Re: Review of Bishop’s Decision of Law in the South Carolina Annual Conference Concerning the Legality of the Standing Rule of the Conference for the Election of the Conference Secretary under ¶ 603.7 of the 2004 Book of Discipline.

Digest of Case

The standing rule of the South Carolina Annual Conference, which delegates the nomination of the conference secretary exclusively to the bishop and district superintendents without any input from the Annual Conference, is in conflict with ¶ 603.7 of the 2004 Book of Discipline. The Annual Conference is directed to correct its standing rules so that the process of nomination does not conflict with ¶ 603.7 of the 2004 Book of Discipline.

Statement of Facts

At the 2007 session of the South Carolina Annual Conference, during the report of the Annual Conference Committee on Standing Rules, a clergy member made a written request for a decision of law from the Bishop concerning the legality of a rule that had been amended during the preceding regular session of the Annual Conference. The 2006 amendment to the standing rule vested the nomination of the conference secretary exclusively with the bishop and the cabinet and precluded nominations from the annual conference. The clergy member submitted the following in writing:

South Carolina Annual Conference standing rule 30.d reads as follows: “30. The officers of the Annual Conference, to be elected quadrennially, shall be elected at the Annual Conference preceding the beginning of the quadrennium and shall be as follows: … d. The secretary, upon nomination by the Bishop and Cabinet.” With the exception of the presiding bishop, and the district superintendents, this standing rule denies the right of other members of the South Carolina Annual Conference to nominate anyone to serve as secretary of the annual conference. Paragraph 603.7 of the 2004 edition of the Book of discipline of the (sic) United Methodist Church reads as follows: “7. The annual conference at the first session following the General Conference or jurisdictional or central conference (or, if it may desire, at the last session preceding the general, jurisdictional, or central conferences) shall elect a secretary and statistician to serve for the seceding (sic) quadrennium. In the case of a vacancy in the interim of the sessions, the bishop, after consultation with the district superintendents, shall appoint a person to act until the next session of the annual conference. See Paragraph (sic) 618 for election of the treasurer.)” By authority granted in Paragraph 604 of the 2004 Discipline the annual conference may adopt rules and regulations not in conflict with The Book of Discipline. South Carolina Annual Conference Standing rule 30.d appears to be in conflict with Paragraph 603.7 by limiting nomination of the Conference Secretary to the Bishop and Cabinet without opportunity for additional nominations from the floor of the electing body. Therefore, in accordance with Paragraph 2609.6 request is hereby made in writing in the regular business of the 2007 session during the report of Standing Rules for a decision of law by the bishop pertaining to Standing Rule 30.d being in conflict with Paragraph 603.7 of the Discipline by limiting the nomination source to the Bishop and Cabinet.
The Bishop ruled as follows:
Standing Rule 30.d of the Standing Rules and Resolutions of the South Carolina Conference is not in conflict with paragraph 603.7 of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church (2004 ed.).
Susan Henry-Crowe recused herself and did not participate in any of the proceedings related to this decision.
Jurisdiction
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2609.6 of the 2004 Book of Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
The ruling of the Bishop is reversed pursuant to the provisions of ¶ 603.7 of the 2004 Book Of Discipline. Unless provided otherwise in the Discipline (such as the nomination of the conference treasurer in ¶ 618 and the conference chancellor in ¶ 603.8), the process for nominations should not exclude participation by all of the members of the annual conference. South Carolina law does not preclude this Annual Conference from following the provisions of ¶ 603.7 of the 2004 Book of Discipline.
Decision
The standing rule of the South Carolina Annual Conference, which delegates the nomination of the conference secretary exclusively to the bishop and district superintendents without any input from the Annual Conference, is in conflict with ¶ 603.7 of the 2004 Book of Discipline. The Annual Conference is directed to correct its standing rules so that the process of nomination does not conflict with ¶ 603.7 of the 2004 Book of Discipline. October 27, 2007 James W. Holsinger, Jr., Jon R. Gray and Shamwange P. Kyungu were absent. C. Rex Bevins, the first clergy alternate, and Solomon Christian, the first lay alternate, participated in this decision.

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